The Lore Train: A Realm Reborn Part 1
But every end marks a new beginning…
The Rise and Fall of the White Raven would be but a prelude to the tale that Nymeia would spin for the coming eras.
Five years have passed since Louisoix gave his life, saving the lives of the Warriors of Light at the Battle of Cartenau. Now, an adventurer returns to Eorzea.
IN DARKNESS, THE CRYSTAL DREAMS…
The story of A REALM REBORN begins with a vision from the Mothercrystal. Basked in Her light, the adventurer sees themselves garbed in ornate armor, wielding a weapon that glows as if made of pure light. In the distance, the silhouette of a masked, hyuran mage appears, striking a threatening pose as a glowing, red glyph manifests over his face. The player charges, weapon drawn… and the vision fades. This is the moment in which those just arriving to Eorzea receive the blessing of the Crystal – and the gift of a mysterious power known only as the Echo. As the visions fades, they arrive in their city-state of choice to begin life anew as a member of the Adventurers’ Guild.
If the adventurer is a Warrior of Light returned from the Battle of Cartenau, they simply appear at the mark of Althyk outside of Amdapor Keep in the Black Shroud. Returning to town and realizing that nobody remembers who they are, however, they resolve to start from scratch at the Adventurer’s Guild until a better plan arises.
Miounne first sends the adventurer to assist Galfrid in managing the training of new recruits to the Twin Adder. Galfrid soon confides in the adventurer that Ixali activity in the Black Shroud is ever increasing, coinciding with reports of a shadowy figure lurking about. Hoping an individual might have a better chance of remaining undetected than the units patrolling the wood, he bids they investigate Lifemend Stump, where the Ixal were recently sighted. The adventurer happens upon Yda and Papalymo, investigating the stump as a result of an aetheric disturbance in the area, but no sooner do they introduce themselves than they are surrounded by forest creatures angered by the aetherial imbalance. With the last of them defeated, the adventurer notices a luminous water crystal left in their wake. Reaching out for it, they fall into a reverie and see another vision of the Mothercrystal – this time, she speaks, warning that the Light that shone throughout Eorzea has grown dim, and that Darkness rises in its stead, threatening life itself. For the sake of all, She beseeches the adventurer to gather the Crystals of Light and use them to banish the coming Darkness, but the vision fades before meaning can be made of this mission. Yda and Papalymo conclude that an Ixali chieftain is to blame for their current situation and bid the adventurer farewell.
A short time later, the adventurer returns to the Bannock to find Galfrid alarmed. He reveals that the conjurers were to hold rites to return Spirithold, an abanondoed gaol, to the wood, but that they came under attack by a large, shadowy figure. Having just sent a unit to intercept the Ixal elsewhere, Galfrid concludes that this attack is no coincidence and may be an attempt to drive a wedge between Gridania and the Elementals. The adventurer arrives in time to help the conjurer and his guards flee as a masked mage summons a golem to attack them. The soulkin is defeated and the masked mage vanishes just as Yda and Papalymo arrive, having followed another aetheric disturbance. Before the adventurer can speak, they begin to experience unexplained visions of the duo’s activities in the Black Shroud and pass out. Waking shortly after, Yda and Papalymo assure the adventurer that another Hearer will be dispatched to perform the rite, and that all is well.
Returning to Gridania, Miounne sends the adventurer to Bentbranch Meadows, where there are many who would appreciate their talents. The continued search for the shadowy figure at large in the wood yields few results as the adventurer stumbles upon the one dilemma after another. Between qiqirn raids, the undead rising from the Tam-Tara Deepcroft, and an attempt made by thieves on the egg of a prized chocobo from Moogle’s Gift Mounts, it’s as if something desires the forest to be in constant discord.
Various reports by citizens of the Shroud lead Miounne to believe that the Ixal have designs on the Guardian Tree, the oldest tree in the wood and a sacred site for Gridanians. Fearful that the rage of the elementals would never be quelled if the tree came to harm, Miounne bids the adventurer rally the Wood Wailers and Gods’ Quiver to its defense, immediately. Even as they do so, however, the city’s defenders receive word that the area has come under siege by the beastmen. Arriving at the Guardian Tree, the Ixal are already attempting to extract a great crystal they believe to be within it. With the adventurer’s assistance, the lancers and archers of Gridania force the Ixal to retreat and give chase deep into the Wood. With the adventurer alone, the masked mage summons a gargoyle and attacks, intent on preventing further disruptions to his malign orchestrations. Amazingly, the adventurer holds their own against the voidsent and is soon aided by Yda and Papalymo, arriving in pursuit of yet another aetheric disturbance. With his final breath, the masked mage speaks of the “knowledge of the Paragons,” causing the pair to finally realize the foes her allies face–the Bringers of Chaos; the Ascians.
Momodi first sends the adventurer to the Ul’dah Dispatch Yard to take odd jobs from the stationmaster, Papashan, who is currently hosting a Sultansworn patrol. A former Paladin, himself, Papashan becomes anxious at their lack of progress and discloses the reason for their presence –Lady Lilira of the royal family has slipped her entourage and vanished. He sends the adventurer to search the area around the Sultantree on a hunch, hoping she’ll not first be discovered by those with malign motives. The stationmaster’s intuition pans out; “Lady Lilira” is found beneath the Sultantree, praying to her ancestors for forgiveness for a recent failure. Detecting a disturbance in the aether, Thancred reveals himself, admitting that he’d been quietly tailing the royal for fear of her safety. As he attempts to convince the lalafell to return with him, vodoriga descend on the trio and Thancred enlists the adventurer’s aid in fending them off. With the last of them defeated, the adventurer notices a luminous water crystal left in their wake. Reaching out for it, they fall into a reverie and see another vision of the Mothercrystal – this time, she speaks, warning that the Light that shone throughout Eorzea has grown dim, and that Darkness rises in its stead, threatening life itself. For the sake of all, She beseeches the adventurer to gather the Crystals of Light and use them to banish the coming Darkness, but the vision fades before meaning can be made of this mission. Lilira is returned to the Dispatch Yard, where Papashan struggles to not reveal her identity to passersby and assures her that a certain missing object will be located in time and to not put herself in harm’s way.
The adventurer’s assistance is then requested by the Stone Torches at Black Brush Station, where rumors circulate that a small-time merchant, Wystan, has discovered an untapped vein of ore beneath the ruins of Sil’dih. Hoping to mine the vein himself and use the profits to secure a better life for the refugees by lobbying the city’s lawmakers, the naïve merchant incurs the wrath of Syndicate member Lolorito, whose trade empire thrives on exploiting the lower classes. The Brass Blades hired by Wystan turn on him, loyal to the Syndicate masters who pay them, and the adventurer comes to his aid. As the conflict rages, a masked mage in dark robes summons a golem, which attacks indiscriminately until defeated. The masked mage disappears just as Thancred arrives, having followed the aetheric disturbance, but too late to help. Before the adventurer can speak, they begin to experience unexplained visions of Thancred’s activities in Ul’dah and pass out.
Back on their feet, the adventurer heads to Horizon to assist the Fufulupe of the Brass Blades of the Rose. The division’s previous captain has been demoted and assigned to Lost Hope, a refugee camp of little importance that has been under siege by a group of bandits whose leader claims to be an heir of a Syndicate member who died in the Calamity. Dismantling the outfit reveals that the Brass Blades’ new captain has been in league with the outlaws from the start, taking a cut of their profits in smuggling Nashachite from the now-closed Copperbell Mines. The adventurer and Fufulupe succeed in rooting out the corruption in the Brass Blades, though, at the time of his arrest, the Captain was in possession of a letter destined for Owyne of the Sultansworn, leading Fufulupe to suspect further corruption. Returning to the Quicksand, Momodi vouches for Owyne’s loyalty and confesses the situation that’s had the Sultansworn on such high alert since the adventurer’s arrival – the crown of the Sultana, symbol of her birthright and the legacy of the line of Ul – was stolen from a recent ceremony where Owyne was charged with its protection. Knowing he’d be eager to reclaim his honor, Momodi recommends bringing the letter to Owyne directly.
The letter demands that Owyne retrieve an item from the royal vaults and exchange it for the crown, alone. Driven by guilt, Owyne admits that he plans to meet the demands, but asks that the adventurer accompany him so he won’t have to fight alone if the bandits turn on him. Indeed, as soon as they are in possession of the item, an undead-rising powder said to have been the doom of Sil’dih, the outlaws attack. Unbeknownst to Owyne, however, Flame General Raubahn had seen his entry into the vaults and tasked Papashan to head a unit of Sultansworn to protect him. Dressed in his former armor, Papashan leads the unit into battle, routing the bandits while the adventurer handles voidsent Vodoriga called by their leader. Defeated, the bandits attempt to flee, but the Sultansworn give fevered chase to reclaim the crown. With the adventurer alone, the masked mage summons a gargoyle and attacks, intent on preventing further disruptions to his malign orchestrations. Amazingly, the adventurer holds their own against the voidsent and is soon aided by Thancred, arriving in pursuit of yet another aetheric disturbance. With his final breath, the masked mage speaks of the “knowledge of the Paragons,” causing Thancred to finally realize the foes his allies face–the Bringers of Chaos; the Ascians.
Baderon first sends the adventurer to Summerford Farms, where Staelwyrn’s pirate crew has taken the Admiral’s incentive to reform and bring life back to the fields. Some of the crew struggle to adjust to honest, landlocked living, especially a youth named Sevrin, who is often encouraging indolence and petty theft. Productivity takes a further hit when the farmhands notice brigands with blue tattoos watching them from a distance and worry that they’re being targeted by an unknown group responsible for several recent kidnappings. Searching the nearby Seasong Grotto, a possible campsite for the ruffians, the adventurer finds only Y’shtola, also on the kidnappers’ trail. The notion that they’re both mistaken is quickly set aside as they come under attack by a frenzied goobbue. With the last of them defeated, the adventurer notices a luminous water crystal left in their wake. Reaching out for it, they fall into a reverie and see another vision of the Mothercrystal – this time, she speaks, warning that the Light that shone throughout Eorzea has grown dim, and that Darkness rises in its stead, threatening life itself. For the sake of all, She beseeches the adventurer to gather the Crystals of Light and use them to banish the coming Darkness, but the vision fades before meaning can be made of this mission. Nearby, Y’shtola pulls a shipwright’s dagger from a goobbue’s back, confident that it was set upon them by pirates of some sort.
A short time later, Sevrin lures some of his comrades away with promises of drink, and the adventurer is sent to retrieve them. Arriving at Woad Whisper Canyon, however, the youths are found strewn wounded about the area. Up the path, Sevrin confronts the tattooed pirates, who threaten that he won’t be allowed to betray them a third time. Concealed behind a nearby rock, a masked mage summons a golem, determined to leave no survivors. The adventurer intercepts the soulkin in defense of the farmhands and the golem is defeated just as Y’shtola arrives, having followed the aetheric disturbance and frustrated to see her quarry has escaped her once again. Before the adventurer can speak, they begin to experience unexplained visions of Y’shtola’s activities in Limsa Lominsa and pass out.
Upon returning to Summerford Farms, Sevrin confesses the whole truth. The boy had only just joined a pirate crew when its captain bent his knee to the Sahagin. Rather than join the ranks of the Serpent Reavers, Sevrin fled took refuge with the crew at Summerford. When the Reavers tracked him down, they offered to spare his life in exchange for his deliverance of his comrades at the farm. Not knowing what else to do, he went along with the plan, but found the resolve to stand against them at the last moment, giving his friends time to escape. With everything righted at the farm, the adventurer returns to Baderon, who assures them that Sevrin’s fate will be fair and take the final outcomes into consideration.
As the adventurer takes what work comes their way, a pattern starts to emerge that Lominsa’s woes are not discrete or coincidental. The frequent malfunction of the lighthouse at Brewer’s Beacon and the sinking of a merchantman in calm seas culminate in in attack on Moraby Drydocks by pirates in the employ of the Serpent Reavers. Though it is first feared that the target is the Victory, the first warship built since the Calamity and a symbol of Lominsa’s rebirth, the assault proves to be a distraction. Baderon decodes a Sahagin missive confiscated from the pirates and concludes that it is all a ruse to provide the Serpent Reavers an opportunity to abduct more Lominsan civilians. With the Yellow Jackets stretched too thin to reinforce a single settlement on Baderon’s hunch, the adventurer heads to Swiftperch. Fortunately, Baderon guesses correctly and, with the adventurer’s aid, the Serpent Reavers are routed by the small force garrisoned there. Victorious, the Yellowjackets give chase hoping to apprehend the stragglers. With the adventurer alone, the masked mage summons a gargoyle and attacks, intent on preventing further disruptions to his malign orchestrations. Amazingly, the adventurer holds their own against the voidsent and is soon aided by Y’shtola, arriving in pursuit of yet another aetheric disturbance. With his final breath, the masked mage speaks of the “knowledge of the Paragons,” causing Y’shtola to finally realize the foes her allies face–the Bringers of Chaos; the Ascians.
A sudden hero to their people, tales of the adventurer’s exploits spread throughout the city-state. Reminded of the Warriors of Light, the city’s leader names them as an envoy to the other two cities in hopes of organizing a day of remembrance across Eorzea for all that was lost at the Battle of Cartenau. A message is quietly passed between the leaders that the wolf grows more active as of late, but none mention its true meaning.
In Eastern La Noscea, however, a Garlean airship bears XIVth Legion Gaius van Baelsar, the Black Wolf, and his three tribunii to Castrum Occidens in continuing preparations for a new campaign. Before a cohort of saluting soldiers, he rallies his legion behind his cause, describing what they will soon face – Eorzea, festering in corruption and worship of eikons (icons), has somehow withstood Garlemald’s might against incredible odds, but the primal threat must be extinguished and the realm must be brought under the yoke of the Empire, and the XIVth Imperial Legion will see it done.
“Eorzea… A blighted realm, riddled with false gods… Twice now it has eluded the Empire’s grasp. For all the destruction it wrought, even Meteor, the Great Sin, failed to yield us control over it. And for this failure, the realm has sunk deeper into depravity. It is twisted beyond all reckoning—rotten nigh to the core. Yet it must be saved. Only Garlean rule can bring order to Eorzea. It falls to us to deliver the misguided masses from their ignorance.”
With their notoriety growing, the adventurer is solicited by Baderon to assist the Yellowjackets with an exploration of Sastasha Seagrot, a suspected pirate hideout. Sure enough, the caves are riddled with Serpent Reavers and connect to a hidden port beneath the Sahagin’s foothold in Western La Noscea. Neutralizing this threat leads Baderon to send the adventurer to Gridania, where a similar problem has taken hold in the Tam-tara Deepcroft due to the entrenching of a doomsday cult known as the Lambs of Dalamud. Having heard of these exploits, the Adventurers’ Guild in Ul’dah requests aid in the securing the safety of the Copperbell Mines, which was recently closed after being overrun by hecatonchiers locked in its depths for three centuries at the hands of the Thorne Dynasty, thought long dead.
The adventurer is the approached by Y’shtola, Thancred, or Yda and Papalymo, who had been following their exploits since realizing that they possessed both the Echo and the will to help Eorzeans in need. Offering them the means to discover the meaning behind their mysterious visions, the Archon extends to them an invitation to join the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, an organization wholly dedicated to safeguarding the future of Eorzea. Minfilia, the organization’s leader, welcomes the adventurer with open arms, offering access to the full extent of the Scion’s resources in exchange for any assistance that can be provided, especially against the threat of the primals, aetherial demigods summoned by the realm’s beast tribes. Those possessing the Echo are invaluable allies against them, she explains, as, somehow, a primal’s ability to bend the minds of men to their will is useless against those with the blessing.
If the adventurer is a Warrior of Light returning from Cartenau, this is the first time anyone remembers their identity. Minfilia can’t explain why, and suggests that the secret be kept as to not draw unwanted and distracting attention, but assures the adventurer that they are home and have been dearly missed.
A recent string of crystal theft and abduction lead Thancred and the adventurer to Thanalan, where both are confirmed to be the work of the Amal’jaa. Suspecting them to be aided by someone in the Drybone community, the adventurer spends some time at the local church helping a refugee named Marques performing odd jobs until it is revealed that an unscrupulous merchant has been the one in collusion with the beastmen.
Using the merchant as bait, the adventurer joins with the Immortal Flames to lure the Amal’jaa into a trap, but a traitor within the flames sells the party out and they are captured as an offering to the beastmen’s primal – Ifrit, Lord of the Inferno. The Amalj’aa return with their captives to the Bowl of Embers, where Ifrit is summoned forth from the aether. The primal bathes his captives in a blue flame that sears not their flesh, but removes all resistance to his will. The tempered rise proclaiming Ifrit the one true god, but the Amalj’aa panic when they see that the adventurer is immune. When Ifrit can find no sense of another primal on their soul, he labels them one of the “godless blessed” of which the Paragon spoke and attacks, insistent that their kind not be suffered to live. Against all odds, the adventurer overcomes the freshly summoned Ifrit and returns the aether spent on his summoning to the land. Nearby, XIVth Imperial Legion tribunii Livia sas Junius and Nero tol Scavea look on, though Nero is wistfully underwhelmed by Ifrit’s power… and concerned about the adventurer’s.
Thancred arrives too late to assist, and the fact that he wasn’t there to assist the party weighs heavily upon him, even moreso knowing that those unable to resist a primal’s tempering must be put to the sword, for they will never truly recover. His only solace is that the adventurer has come to little harm. Word spreads quickly, and soon representatives from all three Grand Companies arrive to recruit Ifrit’s bane as their own. Minfilia eases the pressure by suggesting that the adventurer attend the remembrance ceremonies across Eorzea and listen to each Grand Company leader’s speech before making a final decision. At each ceremony, they are approached by a pair of young, cynical Elezen twins who seem to question if the city-states are even worth saving, as they are. The adventurer decides on a Grand Company, but their initiation is interrupted by an urgent report concerning a Highwind Skyways airship downed by Garleans and in need of rescue. The ship turns out to be owned by the Garlond Ironworks – the very first model created since Cid Garlond, the Ironworks’ leader, vanished in the Calamity – under heavy attack by a Garlean unit. The imperials are scattered, returning Ironworks engineers Biggs and Wedge to safety.
Hoping to form peaceful relations with the Sylphs, the Scions send the adventurer to Little Solace in the Black Shroud, a haven for the untempered Sylphs exiled by those in thrall to the primal Ramuh. Provided with gifts of dancing and milkroot, the sylphs of Little Solace gradually warm to their presence, but only in sincerely helping to make their refuge a better place is any trust earned. Their woes are many – their tempered kin and the Empire’s 3rd Cohort control the Sylphlands, what little privacy their shelter has is oft violated by intrusive Gridanians, and now their elder has gone missing. When word arrives from Buscarron’s Druthers that the elder was seen fleeing into the Thousand Maws of Toto-Rak to escape Imperial pursuers, the adventurer gains entrance to the abandoned Gridanian gaol in hopes of their rescue.
The gaol is dense with malicious fauna, but the adventurer clears a path into its depths, only to find a masked mage within. “Darkness…” Hydaelyn’s voice echoes in their mind, Her sudden intrusion making them wince in pain. The mage introduces himself as Lahabrea of the Ascians, servant to the one true god. He confesses that the adventurer’s power, born from an anomaly in the aether known as the Echo, is an inspiring tale, but one that must end. With Hydaelyn still whispering Her warnings, the Ascian reveals his true intention – the crystal’s demise – and uses the power of Darkness to warp a nearby diremite into a massive fiend before vanishing. After the beast is felled, there is a brief silence before the sylph elder, Frixio, emerges from a hiding place amongst the mites’ webs. Through the Echo, the adventurer sees Frixio witness an exchange in the forest between a Nero and a 3rd Cohort Centurion, whose unit has been attempting to extract information on the primal Ramuh from captured sylphs, resulting in their deaths.
Frixio, grateful for his rescue, shares the information that the Scions seek. The Sylphs of Little Solace have no intention of summoning Ramuh, but all those who took part in the Lord of Levin’s previous summoning have become tempered and no longer heed the Elder’s words. Frixio is confident, however, that as long as the tempered Sylphs remain undisturbed, they likely won’t resort to summoning Ramuh anew. Yda and Papalymo take leave to relay the information to Minfilia, but the elder Sylph beckons the adventurer, confiding something unexpected. When Ramuh was first summoned, he gifted to the Sylphs a brilliant lightning crystal, which Frixio claims responded to the adventurer’s presence. As a symbol of his trust and desire for peace, the elder bestows the crystal upon them with a warning – the path the adventurer walks will be a cruel one. The Sylph Noraxia returns with the Scions to the Waking Sands, offering her aid on behalf of Little Solace, where Minfilia believes that they should use this brief respite from primal threats to investigate the Ascian known as Lahabrea. Thancred is already on his trail, but begins to withdraw from the others as the pressure he puts on himself mounts.
In Thanalan, a merchant at Highbridge reports having seen a masked mage speaking to members of different groups, from the Amalj’aa to the Qiqirn to bandits and even the Ala Mhigan refugees. Though it takes a good deal of networking to get the refugees to lend their ear to an outsider, the leaders among Little Ala Mhigo confirm that the masked man has been seen speaking with several of their youths. As the various factions of Southern Thanalan come into conflict, the young Ala Mhigans hatch a plan to raid the Amalj’aa crystal stores and summon Rhalgr to wipe out their enemies and reclaim their home. It soon becomes clear that all of this is the masked mage’s doing – the Bringers of Chaos ever living up to their nickname – and that this same entity was not only behind the return of Ifrit, but also the theft of the Sultana’s crown and the sudden rise of the Alacran. Unfortunately, what the information fails to reveal is anything about the Ascian known as Lahabrea.
Broadening the search to the Black Shroud, rumors circulate about a recent string of murders – all maidens – involving a masked man and an ahriman. It takes some time to separate fact from fiction, but the stories eventually lead back to the Haukke Manor, home of Lady Amandine of House Dartancour. Upon questioning, her former servant confesses a horrible truth – disfigured in the Calamity, Lady Amandine could no longer bear her own appearance and became a recluse. One day, she began to receive visits from strange guests, masked men in black robes, to hold “rites of rejuvenation.” Fearful that the murders restoring her visage continue, the servant begs that his lady be put out of her misery. Allowed into the Manor by the Wood Wailers, the adventurer finds that Darkness has taken root and a horde of voidsent roam the halls. Lady Amandine herself is no longer human, but host to a succubus. Purging Haukke Manor of its fiends draws the attention of the two Ascians that drew Amandine to the darkness, sent by Lahabrea to gauge the adventurer’s strength, but they vanish shortly after, revealing little.
Little progress is made on the Ascians before Limsa Lominsa requests the Scions’ aid as the Kobold have moved to resummon Titan. With little time to prepare for the battle, Y’shtola advises that they seek out members of the Company of Heroes, a band of mercenaries once famous the realm over for their defeat of the primals of Vylbrand, Titan and Leviathan. Precious time is lost to a masquerading marauder eager to ready those who would battle the dread primal Tidus, as the man is quickly proved to be a fraud. Thankfully, he is able to reveal the location of a true Company of Heroes member working at Costa del Sol. Despite Y’shtola’s desperate warnings that the enemy is at the gates, Wheiskaet will not lend assistance before the adventurer’s worth can be judged at an upcoming banquet. Before the Company of Heroes was disbanded, countless good men and women went to their deaths to see the primals felled, and Wheiskaet refuses to send a single soul into the depths of the Kobold’s mines unconvinced that they stand a chance.
Earning Wheiskate’s faith requires traveling a good deal of the realm, speaking with various former members of the Company and helping them with numerous difficult, but seemingly irrelevant tasks. One particular assignment to the Goblin settlement run by Brayflox goes particularly awry when scalekin overrun the Longstop and the adventurer is forced to assist the goblins in battle, though Brayflox asks for nothing further. In the end, it is revealed that the banquet preparations were little more than an excuse for the Company’s remnants to gauge the adventurer’s potential for themselves – and with none of the five finding them lacking, the banquet serves as a celebration before the coming hardship, giving all that remains of the Company of Heroes a moment of comfort and hope.
The Company reveals that they reached Titan’s sanctum, the Navel, not by fighting through the labyrinth of enemies and traps within the Kobold mines, but by utilizing the beastmens’ aetherytes with the assistance of an old scholar, a feat he claimed “any Sharlayan worth her salt could manage.” Y’shtola, possibly recognizing Louisoix’s unique humor and foresight, pieces out a potential solution – using her own energies to amplify the beastmens’ aetheryte and use it to seek out other anchors. Though the plan succeeds in sending the adventurer deep into the mountain tunnels, Y’shtola herself is delayed. As soon as the Kobold spy the intruder, they begin the summoning, crying out to the Great Father for salvation and promising to avenge the overdwellers’ transgressions against their kind. The summoning is successful, but the hastily prepared ritual leaves the primal without sufficient power to overcome the adventurer, strengthened by three Crystals of Light and immune to his influence. The Kobold scatter, promising that the Lominsans will never know peace so long as they violate their covenant and encroach on O’Ghomoro.
Y’shtola arrives, finding herself on a ledge overlooking the Navel, ducking behind a rock when she realizes Garleans are nearby. Mere fulms away, Nero discusses his readings of Titan’s power with fellow tribunus Rhitahtyn sas Arvina, pleased with the results. Rhitahtyn, however, remains skeptical that Nero’s “curiosity” will considerably advance their war effort. Lahabrea manifests, assuring the tribuni that no greater power has ever existed but that which they possess, and teleports them out of the caves, taking a moment before his own departure to study the adventurer, who reaches down to acquire a fourth Crystal of Light, left among Titan’s rapidly dissolving aetherial remains. Y’shtola is left confused as to what common goal the Ascians and Garleans could possibly share, but sets the thought aside and teleports them to safety.
Minfilia bids the adventurer expect a hero’s welcome upon return to the Waking Sands, but in the time it takes them to arrive in Thanalan, something has gone horribly wrong. What lanterns are unbroken have gone dark, and the bodies of dozens from among the Scion ranks litter the floor. Noraxia lies dying on the floor of the Solar as the adventurer enters. The Echo resonates with the Sylph’s attempts to communicate, drawing them into a vision. With the aid of Ascian magicks, a unit of Garleans appear within the Waking Sands. While Livia sas Junius loudly demands the slayer of Ifrit and Titan be turned over, Minfilia tells Noraxia to hide and imparts a message for the adventurer. She then surrenders herself to the Empire on the condition that the innocents be spared, but Livia orders the slaughter of all within and Minfilia bound. Noraxia moves to protect her, but is violently kicked into the wall by the tribunus and left for dead as the unit takes their leave. As the vision fades, Noraxia tells the adventurer to seek shelter at the church in Eastern Thanalan and, at peace having survived long enough to pass along this message, releases her hold on life.
The priest of the church at Drybone, a friend to the Scions, grants their sanctuary and bids Marques, who earlier assisted in the search for kidnappers in Thanalan, help them in any way he can. As funeral rites are prepared for those who died at the Waking Sands, Marques comes across an object possessed by one of the fallen that seems familiar to him, causing him further frustration that the trauma he sustained in the Calamity has robbed him of most of his memory. More confusing to him is the fact that he can repair the object, considering it’s revealed to be a Garlean device possessed by a possible traitor. Noraxia’s body is returned to Little Solace, and though the Elder finds peace in tales of Noraxia’s bravery, others vow in rage that when the time comes, they will aid in the fight against the Empire.
At the church in Drybone, Alphinaud, one of the young Elezen twins from the remembrance ceremony, arrives claiming to have deduced that Marques is none other than Cid Garlond, the Ironworks’ missing head engineer. Alphinaud reveals that the Ixal have summoned the primal Garuda, and that the city-states are wholly unprepared to face her, having left the primals to the Scions since the Calamity. Furthermore, he reveals that as the grandson of the late Louisoix Leveilleur, he refuses to stand by as the realm’s hope is extinguished. His plan is to circumvent Garuda’s tempest using Cid’s airship, and with her defeat send a message to the realm and its beast tribes that the Scions of the Seventh Dawn remain to counter the primal threat. Though the tale stirs no memory in Marques, he agrees to accompany Alphinaud on his search for the lost airship, the Enterprise.
The search leads to Coerthas, where the Ishgardians offer nothing in the way of assistance, distracted by their focus on the Dragonsong War, which has stretched every resource they have to its breaking point. Even as the adventurer arrives, the four high houses of Ishgard are set against each other by traitorous heretics loyal to the Dravanian Horde. What little assistance the Ishgardians don’t reject outright is thankfully enough to ingratiate the adventurer with House Haillenarte, who offers a formal introduction to Lord Haurchefant of House Fortemps, the only of the High Houses to welcome adventurers and sellswords from abroad. With Haurchefant’s help, the group is able to unravel a conspiracy against the weakened House Haillenarte, unmasking a holy inquisitor as a heretic of the Horde. Grateful, and humbled, the High Houses assist the group in locating Cid’s airship, which was apprehended by the garrison of Stone Vigil just before the Calamity. Though the airship might still be there, the fort itself has fallen to the Dravanian Horde, and any attempt to reclaim it will require braving the scalekin within.
House Durendaire aims to retake the Stone Vigil from the Dravanians, but is unprepared to launch their assault. Instead, Alphinaud, Cid, and the adventurer cut a narrow path through the fortresses’ halls to the Enterprise’s resting place–beside a sleeping ice dragon. As Cid and Alphinaud attempt to repair and launch the airship before the dragon can stir, Lahabrea appears. Correctly surmising that the group intends to slay Garuda, he warns of her power–far beyond that of Ifrit or Titan–and wakes the dragon, vanishing as it rises to attack them. The adventurer prevails against the dragon, and through the cold winds of the Vigil, the Ice Crystal of Light materializes. Though the Enterprise is in need of repairs, Cid manages to get it airworthy and the group make their escape. As the airship takes to the skies, Cid struggles to remember why this all feels so familiar, but his memories remain lost.
To bypass Garuda’s tempest, Cid harnesses the power of over-aspected ice crystals, hoping they will warp the wind-aspected aether of her storms into an element she can’t control. On the return flight to Coerthas, Cid thanks the adventurer for reuniting him with a part of himself he’d lost and struggles once more to retrieve his memories. Though he fails on his own, his efforts resonate with the Echo and, together, Cid and the adventurer organize the visions of his past–his childhood as a Garlean engineering prodigy, his time at Imperial court with Gaius van Baelsar, his defection to Eorzea and the rise of the Ironworks. If the adventurer is a Warrior of Light returned from Cartenau, Cid also remembers their final flight together to Rivenroad to slay Nael van Darnus. With renewed resolve, Cid reclaims his purpose of aiding Eorzea and flies into Garuda’s tempest.
In Garuda’s sanctuary, the Howling Eye, the Ixal have already summoned the Lady of the Vortex. Nearby, several of the beastmen guard a collection of Amalj’aa and Kobold prisoners, an ominously out-of-place sight in the Coerthan highlands. Despite her ferocity, Garuda is unable to overcome the adventurer, empowered by the Echo and five Crystals of Light. The zeal of the Ixal is not so easily extinguished, and even as she falters they endow her with crystals and worship. Enraged, Garuda resorts to attempting to temper the adventurer, but not only does the process fail on account of the Echo, but the power somehow responds in kind, tearing the aether bestowed on Garuda from her breast and coalescing it into the Wind Crystal of Light.
As the adventurer claims it, Gaius van Baelsar steps out from a concealed location nearby and mocks the primal, goading her into further defiance. Summoning the wind, she shears her Amaj’aa and Kobold prisoners asunder as they frantically pray for aid, their aether is torn from them and gives rise to both Ifrit and Titan. Alphinaud panics, calling for the group to flee. From the retreating Enterpise, they watch in awe as Imperial juggernauts deliver an enormous magitek beast that makes short work of all three primals, not only overpowering them, but seemingly absorbing their essences. Lahabrea watches on, assuring Gaius that this recovered Allag relic will only grow stronger with each primal it consumes.
Cid, Alphinaud, and the adventurer return to the Waking Sands, confident that the remaining beast tribes won’t risk summoning their primals while the Empire’s new machina exists. There, they meet Yda and Y’shtola, who it turns out were not present when the Garleans attacked. While the others contended with Garuda, Y’shtola and Yda were able to discover the others’ location, confined by the Empire at Castrum Centri in Mor Dhona. As the group rests in preparation to gather intelligence on the Castrum, Hydaelyn imparts a vision on the adventurer, affirming that the gathered Crystals of Light will protect them in the coming battle against the bearer of the Avatar of Shadow, Lahabrea.
The Ishgardians at the Observatorium confirm seeing the prisoners’ arrival in Mor Dhona from Coerthas. They also claim to have seen one of the airships make an emergency landing in Coerthas, where two prisoners matching the descriptions of Biggs and Wedge escaped. The group manages to track them down and save them from Imperial pursuers, and the group returns to Mor Dhona to plan their infiltration of Castrum Centri. To accomplish this, imperial uniforms and even a Magitek Reaper are stolen from local units, though the machina is damaged in its capture. To compensate, Wedge–nicknaming the magitek Maggie–installs a mammet heart to replace the magitek core. Its newfound sentience allows it to regulate the damaged parts, though it comes with some behavioral quirks.
The group succeeds in infiltrating the castrum and locating their comrades, but the escape goes awry and they are surrounded by imperial troops. Seeing this, the magitek reaper takes action despite having no pilot, confusing the soldiers and allowing Cid time to descend with the Enterprise and extract the Scions–though Maggie is left behind. From the air, the group sees Gaius consorting with Lahabrea near the now-completed magitek giant–the Ultima Weapon. Knowing the Scions bear witness, Lahabrea lowers his hood and removes his mask to reveal his hyruan vessel–Thancred. The victory feels hollow as the group make their retreat, Alphinaud curses himself for not having seen it sooner that Thancred had been possessed.
Fearing that the Eorzean Alliance leaders, believing the Scions dead, will surrender rather than face destruction by the Ultima Weapon, Alphinaud suggests that the reunited group appear before the nations’ leaders and declare their will to fight. Indeed, Gaius van Baelsar has offered Eorzea the same ultimatum he made long ago: surrender to Imperial rule and take up arms against the beast tribes, or be destroyed alongside them. Faced with an impossible choice between surrendering after all they’ve lost in resistance and asking the realm to risk what little it has left, the leaders of the Grand Companies consider conciliation. The Scions arrive in the midst of their meeting, where Alphinaud and Minfilia plead them to not give in to the foolish hope that Imperial rule would beget aught but further despair. Ashamed, the Alliance leaders consider why they took up arms in the first place, finding their resolve in the Scions return and vowing to fight.
Together with Alphinaud, the Alliance leaders outline an unprecedented operation, the largest counteroffensive in the realm’s history and the last thing the Garleans will expect. United, the Alliance will strike every castrum on Eorzean soil at once, culminating in an assault on the Garlean invasion force’s seat of power in Thanalan, the Praetorium, where the Ultima Weapon is housed. Noticing that at least twelve major factions will be fighting for the salvation of Eorzea, Alphinaud dubs the assault Operation Archon.
Signaling the launch of the assault, the adventurer leads a unit that intercepts Praefectus Rhitatyn sas Arvina at an inspection of Cape Westwind and slays him, leaving the western front without leadership. In the resulting confusion, the Maelstrom lays siege to Castrum Occidens while the Lominsan Armada blockades Castrum Marinum and, in the Black Shroud, the Twin Adders and sylphs surround Castrum Oriens. With Castrium Meridianum’s supply lines cut off, the Immortal Flames attack, drawing its cohort into Northern Thanalan in defense. Returned from Cape Westwind, the adventurer’s unit, supported by Cid, steals into the now-vulnerable castrum interior and disables its defenses of the Praetorium within. Livia sas Junius mounts a defense within, but is slain in the adventurer’s charge. As the castrum’s defenses crumble, the Immortal Flames enter the stronghold and overwhelm the garrison while a second unit from the Twin Adder descends sabotage the railway between Castrum Centri and Castrum Meridianum before reinforcements can arrive.
With the Praetorium surrounded by Raubahn’s forces, the adventurer boards the Enterprise and enters via an upper level airship dock. Gaius van Baelsar awaits in the command chamber, offering both Cid and the adventurer a place at his side, claiming that only as allies can they be permitted to live. Denied, the Black Wolf descends to the depths of the fortress towards the Ultima Weapon, sealing the cermet doors behind him. Cid remains in the command chamber to guide the adventurer as they give chase, recommending that they acquire magitek armor to break through the cermet barriers. By some strange coincidence, Maggie awaits in the armory, having been shipped from Castrum Centri and repaired. Armed with the Reaper, the adventurer makes short work of the barriers between them and the fleeing Legatus, but fall short just of their goal when the strain on Maggie’s hardware finally causes her to collapse.
Following his old friend’s voice from the command chamber, Nero intercepts the adventurer. Blaming Garlond for always being left in his shadow, Nero attempts to stall them in order to give Baelsar time to activate Ultima, but flees when he and his magitek are overhwlemed. Gaius is reached just as an elevator begins its descent towards Ultima. He berates the adventurer’s resistance, claiming Eorzea to be naught but delusion upon deception–false faiths, weak leaders, and destined to fall without Imperial rule. Seeing his words are wasted, he attacks, but quickly retreats towards the Ultima Weapon when he sees the adventurer’s true strength.
Controlling Ultima manually, Gaius engages once more. The adventurer is powerless, at first, but Hydaelyn soon intervenes, tearing the primals’ essences from the magitek and reducing its power, leaving it vulnerable to the adventurer, empowered by the Crystals of Light. Lahabrea appears as Ultima falters, confessing that within the weapon lies a weapon – the Heart of Sabik – stirred by the captured primals. Utilizing its power, he casts a spell of unrivaled power, Ultima. The Praetorium is leveled in an instant, leaving only warped metal and flames, but the battlefield on which Gaius and the party stand is untouched, shielded by Hydaelyn’s waning power. Unable to protect them a second time, Hydaelyn bids they attack, and the weapon is destroyed.
Frustrated, Lahabrea attacks personally, claiming that Hydaelyn is the source of a corruption that threatens all of existence and naught but the return of the one true god will save it. He underestimates Hydaelyn’s remaining power, however, and is exorcized from Thancred as Her light shines through the Crystals of Light. She assures the adventurer that the Darkness has retreated, but will soon return, beseeching them to be the beacon of Light for Eorzea and the realms beyond. As the Praetorium falls, Maggie appears before the adventurer and the unconscious Thancred, somehow restored, and bears them away from the collapsing wreckage. Left behind, Gaius stumbles to his feet, reflecting on his conquest ending in smoke and ashes as the flames consume him.
With the legatus of the XIVth Legion defeated and the Garlean advance on Eorzea halted for the time, the leaders of the Grand Companies call for the ushering in of the Seventh Astral Era. Though the beast tribes resume summoning primals, though the Ascians surely still plot from the Darkness, and though the Empire will surely resume its march west one day, Eorzea stands united and the first shift in momentum has occurred in their favor. The ceremony in Mor Dhona is briefly troubled when an bellowing roar echoes throughout the landscape – the likely awakening of a primal – but little becomes of it, immediately. Unbeknownst to the Eorzeans, in a forgotten corner of the world, Lahabrea enters a dark, stone room. His return is greeted by thirteen other Ascian overlords, and as one they hail the coming Reckoning and the return of the one true god, Zodiark.
Meanwhile, the Scions newfound fame makes them the target of continuous solicitation to the point that Alphinaud recommends they shed their connections to Thanalan and move to the neutral settlement of Revenant’s Toll in Mor Dhona. Minfilia, however, can’t bring herself to cut ties to the region while rumors circulate that her missing adoptive mother, F’lhaminn, survived the Calamity. Alphenaud sets out to prove the rumors false and free Minfilia from uncertainty, but finds that F’lhaminn truly does live, hiding from Imperial agents who might use her safety to force Minfilia’s compliance. With the XIVth Legion in chaos, Aphinaud convinces her to return to the Waking Sands and convince Minfilia to move the Scions to Revenant’s Toll. With the blessing of the Adventurers’ Guild and the Grand Companiy leaders, Minfilia formally announces the Scions’ presence to the world and establishes their new headquarters, the Rising Stones.
With word of the Scions’ upcoming presence in Mor Dhona, activity in Revenant’s Toll blooms. Adventurers flock to assist the fledgling settlement to help the Adventurers’ Guild and shop for rare equipment. All too soon, however, reports arrive of the appearance of a primal, or something like one, in the Black Shroud. In Gridania, the moogle Kuplo Kopp frantically explains that the Mooglesguard have taken to the recent chaos by repeating the same mistake they made five years ago – summoning their legendary king, Good King Moggle Mog XII. In the king’s thrall, the Mooglesguard has moved to support the purge of the Twelveswood of all their perceived enemies. With the adventurer’s help, the aetherial king is slain, though the Mooglesguard are spared and taken into the custody of their chieftain. Kuplo Kopp confirms that the summoning ritual was taught to them by a masked man, leaving the Scions mystified as to how the simple combination of crystals and prayer could manifest a mythical being so similar to a primal.
As Minfilia prepares to leave Vesper Bay for the Rising Stones, a white-robed Ascian appears within the Solar. Referring to himself as an emissary, he behaves quite unlike the black-robed Ascians encountered before him. He claims no quarrel with the Scions, and his visit seems motivated by pure curiosity. Confirming that the Ascians are indeed immortal, he claims that Lahabrea is a warrior, and wrong about a great many things, and that if we could only master the gift that is the Echo, there would be no conflict between the Ascians and Eorzea. Truths about their kind, he says, have been lost to history, replaced by rumors that dictate perception. He turns to leave, and strikes Minfilia with magick he she attempts to restrain him. Hearing her cry out, the Scions rush to check on her, but she bids the adventurer pursue the emissary.
Strangely, the Ascian stands waiting outside of the Waking Sands, waiting. He warns the adventurer that they may follow, but will be tested if this is their choice. Giving chase, the adventurer is tested by an onslaught of voidsent and Ascian mages. The white-robed Ascian commends their strength, claiming he just wanted to see it for himself. The emissary introduces himself as Elidibus, and warns that the world will soon be as it always should have been, and that all the lands and people will be changed. Despite his friendly demeanor and professed desire for peace, Minfilia doesn’t trust the emissary and says that the Scions should continue in their attempts to find a way to truly slay the immortals. Urianger decides to stay behind at the Waking Sands as the rest move on to Mor Dhona, and to him Minfilia entrusts her father’s journal, a wealth of information on the primals stolen during his time as an imperial double agent.
A sense of foreboding falls upon their farewells, however, when it is revealed that all contact with the Students of Baldesion–distant scholars to whom the Scions owned much of their information about aether, primals, and Ascians–has been mysteriously lost. In a forgotten corner of the world, the Ascian Nabriales confronts Elidibus about his intercession. He claims that he was simply intrigued by their survival of the Seventh Ardor and strengthened relationship with the Echo, promising that His plan shall become apparent when the veil is lifted from Eorzea’s eyes and at last they see the truth.
Amajina and Sons’ storehouse in Horizon is robbed of crystals, and the culprits are revealed to be a band of Sea Wolves with blue tattoos. Familiar with pirates of this appearance, Y’shtola returns to Limsa Lominsa to make inquiries. Meanwhile, a damaged ship arrives from the eastern continent of Otheard, leading Alphinaud to believe that it may bear people knowledgeable about the Empire’s current affairs. Indeed, the ship carries refugees from the city of Doma, seeking asylum in Eorzea. The leader of the refugees, a masked woman named Yugiri, claims that a war of succession has broken out in Garlemald. Seeing the Empire in a weakened state, the Domans rose in rebellion, but the Garleans easily subdued them and razed their city to the ground as an example. Sympathetic and eager for allies, Alphinaud agrees to help their pleas for asylum be heard by Ul’dah’s leaders. Yugiri makes it clear that the Domans do not seek to be provided for, and will work as soldiers and tradesmen until their debt to Ul’dah is repaid. Raubahn puts the issue to his fellow Syndicate members first, and Prince Teledji is the first to speak up, claiming that Ul’dah has need for workers and the exchange might be profitable. The Flame General seizes on this momentum and puts it to a vote, but the ruthless merchant Lord Lolorito makes a passionate rejection of the idea, claiming that as it is the streets are choked with refugees from the Calamity five years ago and the fall of Ala Mhigo fifteen years before that. Even with the Sultana’s support of the Domans, Lolorito’s impression is made and the Syndicate vote fails four to two.
Alphinaud concludes that the best place for the Domans is with the Scions at the burgeoning Revenant’s Toll, where the recent influx of adventurers and scholars has driven a need for expansion that has left the settlement desperately lacking in labor and defense. Recognizing the mutually beneficial nature of Alphinaud’s proposal, the Adventureres’ Guild readily welcomes the Domans as equals with the warning that, welcome though they are, the wastes of Mor Dhona are less than hospitable. The refugees, however, are grateful that even this has been afforded to them.
Y’shtola returns with dread tidings – the Sahagin’s Serpent Reavers were indeed responsible for the crystal thefts, driven to Thanalan by the Admiral’s efforts to keep crystals from falling into the beast tribe’s hands. Merlwyb has thus petitioned the Scions for aid in preventing the return of their primal, Leviathan. The Scions join a small force of Maelstrom soldiers on a stealth mission into the Sapsa Spawning Grounds to slay the Sahagin priest meant to summon the Lord of the Whorl. The group arrives as the summoning begins, but Minfilia and the adventurer immediately feel the presence of the Echo as the aether swirls. Wasting no time, Merlwyb draws her flintlock and fires on the Sahagin elder, but somehow his essence emerges from his corpse and possesses a member of his guard. Claiming that he has mastered the gift and become eternal, the priest completes his rites as the Admiral draws her second firearm and slays the entire summoning party from a distance.
The elder’s essence hovers in the air, waning. Realizing his vulnerability, the priest curses the emissary and is consumed by Leviathan, who departs for open waters. Fearing that the primal prepares to unleash a tidal wave capable of destroying the coastline, entirely, the group struggles for a plan to confront Leviathan in time. Storm Marshal Slafyrsyn proposes using corrupted crystals to rob the Lord of the Whorl of his control over the sea, bearing the load to him with two ships lashed together, as he’d heard tale that the pirate king Mistbeard once did. The Admiral and Slafyrsyn share a private smirk, and she agrees to the plan. While the vessel, dubbed the Whorleater, is commissioned, the Scions seek out a member of the Company of Heroes said to have faced the Lord of the Whorl, but quickly return to Limsa Lominsa upon realizing that the strategies to defeat the hoary primal Leviabeetus are simply more tall-tales from the Tidus-slayer. Leviathan refuses to withdraw upon seeing his impotency to wash the vessel away, enraged that he would be challenged with trickery. This stubbornness is his undoing, and the primal is laid low.
The victory does little to settle Minfilia’s mind, her curiosity piqued by the Sahagin elder’s use of the Echo. She connects the power to tales of souls that re-emerge on the brink of Calamity to deliver salvation, and likens the Sahagin’s immortality to that of the Ascians. As her spirits begin to lift at the thought of the Bringers of Chaos truly having an exploitable vulnerability, Urianger bursts in with grim tidings–the Students of Baldesion’s home, the Isle of Val, is no more. Despite being guarded by complex and arcane magicks, the entire area was destroyed by what readings suggest was a spell not unlike Ultima. Minfilia falls into despair in fear that her friends are lost.
Minfilia warns that readings in the Black Shroud suggest continuing aetheric disturbances possibly suggesting the presence of a primal, but the matter is quickly set aside as refugees from Ul’dah arrive to petition Revenant’s Toll for asylum, accompanied by word from the Sultanate that a refugee riot has broken out. Minfilia regretfully rejects the petition, claiming that to admit them would stifle Revenant’s Toll’s growth and possibly lead to reprisal from Ul’dah if the refugees were to blame for the riots.
In Ul’dah, Alphinaud is not surprised that the tension between Ul’dahns and refugees has come to a head, yet feels that the circumstances surrounding the riots were engineered. His investigation leads to a merchant that moves between settlements riling the refugees and providing arms, though he is silenced from afar with an arrow the moment he agrees to provide information. In a private meeting, Raubahn and the Sultana confess that the violence began when a unit of Brass Blades loosed arrows on civilians. Though the incident was attributed to miscommunication, Raubahn confides in them that his investigation yielded information that it was orchestrated by Teledji Adeledji. The leaders feel that Teledji is engaged in a ruse to disrupt the city-state and claim Allagan ruins laid bare at Cartenau under the guise of using it to settle refugees and alleviate the tension. When asked why Teledji would risk this, Raubahn confides a further secret – within the ruins, an Allagan weapon has been partially unexcavated. Not unlike Ultima in many ways, the monstrosity bears inscriptions suggesting that it was created to fell Bahamut himself, and that perhaps its intended destruction was the reason Nael van Darnus chose Cartenau as Dalamud’s landing place. The two submit that Teledji may very well be aspiring to the domination of Eorzea itself, and that by moving to accept the Domans, he both baited Lolorito’s rejection of them and won favor with the Ul’dahn refugees at the same time, bringing the situation to a boiling point.
Unable to move against Teledji, the Scions return their attention the Black Shroud, where the source of the aetherial disturbance has been confirmed: the tempered sylphs have summoned Ramuh. Legends and the sylphs both claim that Ramuh, unlike the other primals encountered by the Scions so far, is as wise as he is powerful–not quick to anger, but serving as arbiter of the wood. Hoping to avoid sacrificing the fragile peace between the Sylphs and Gridania, Kan-E-Senna bids the adventurer attempt to speak with the Lord of Levin, immune to his influence, and resort to force only if necessary. The tempered sylphs’ trickery and magicks delay the party, but eventually they locate Ramuh’s location in the Sylphlands.
The Lord of Levin rejects the Gridanian’s offer for peace, claiming that they are no different from the Garleans, possessed of hearts that harbor darkness and refuse to leave the creatures of the wood to their desired solitude. For a moment, Ramuh considers how this all came to be, wondering if the duality of light and darkness was given form at the birth of man. At this time, he notices that the adventurer bears the crystal he bestowed upon the sylphs, and entertains the possibility that truly champion the cause of peace. He demands, as proof of the Warrior of Light’s resolve, trial by combat. Defeated, Ramuh accepts the adventurer as Eorzea’s champion, and withdraws into the aetherial stream, warning that the enemies of harmony gather.
Even Urianger had come to witness the battle with Ramuh, where inspiration of a way to defeat the Ascians came to him. Seeing Ramuh’s essence dissipate back into the land, Urianger is reminded that mortal souls dissipate to the aetherial realm. The Ascians, as immortals, break this natural order by retreating from our world into some space between the realms, and back, by using Crystals of Darkness. By denying them this transportation and trapping them in an aetherial prison, Urianger believes the Ascian souls can be destroyed, and departs to speak with the scholars of Sharlayan to develop the idea.
Between the realms, the Ascians meet in a floating hall formed by their thoughts, intrigued by Ramuh’s acquiescence. Though the Warrior of Light grows stronger, Hydaelyn grows weaker. Elidibus claims that the seven times the world has survived the Rejoining have made the souls of man weak and by nurturing “the gifted” will Zodiark return. Lahabrea interjects, hinting that by his design the gifted already move to give rise to a new deity.
Finally coming to understand why his grandfather loved Eorzea and its stubborn refusal to give in no matter what it endures, Alphinaud resolves to build the foundation of a new Grand Company not bound to any nation, but the realm itself. While the other companies defend their cities and lands, this new organization will strike where it is needed in order to combat the primal and Ascian threats. Though his attempts to get the company off the ground are slow-going, several people that adventurer has inspired throughout their journey join, eager to see it one day grow into a united Eorzea. Even House Fortemps of Ishgard pledges to continue supporting the Scions’ efforts on the frontier, though the caravans have of late been under constant attack by heretics. Lord Haurchefant expresses frustration at the situation, claiming that the heretics have pledged themselves to a leader named Lady Iceheart, becoming more fanatical and well-organized by the day. A symbol of continuing cooperation, the adventurer vows to assist Ishgard in her apprehension, securing further shipment to Revenant’s Toll. With these first allies pledged to his cause, Alphinaud holds a ceremony inaugurating the birth of a new Grand Company – the Crystal Braves.
As soon as the Crystal Braves are established, they receive an anonymous tip from a desperate source, claiming that a Garlean agent had infiltrated the Eorzean Alliance. Thus far, the Braves had been able to use the clues provided to narrow the search to the Immortal Flames and apprehend a low-level operative of the network. This agent had revealed that their quarry, known as the Ivy, was a high-ranking, firmly-established member of the Grand Company. Worse, the prisoner confessed that the Ivy, from this position of power, had recruited other spies into their cabal.
As the War of Succession in Garlemald reaches its climax, the Braves consider the capture of the Ivy a foremost priority, for traitors cannot be suffered to remain in their midst if the Empire resumes its march west. A member of the Crystal Braves, Ilberd, bids that they make their way to Gridania to apprise Raubahn of the situation personally, hoping that hearing the news from an old Ala Mhigan friend and the Champion of Eorzea might lessen the blow. It pains Raubahn to think that a traitor might have evaded him for so long, but he concedes that the Immortal Flames were established in a corrupt city during a tumultuous time, agreeing to allow the Crystal Braves to conduct their investigation.
Alphinaud summons the adventurer back to Mor Dhona, where a strange development is taking place. For the first time since the Battle of Silvertear Skies, Ishgard has reached out to another faction, officially. Organizing a meeting through House Fortemps, Alphinaud is introduced to Ser Aymeric of the Temple Knights, a representative of the Holy See. Much to Alphinaud’s frustration, however, Ishgard has no intentions of rejoining the Eorzean Alliance, and remains wholly committed to the Dragonsong War. Instead, Aymeric states that the astrologians of the city have observed strange tidings in the heavens that portend the return of the Keeper of the Lake, Midgardsormr, a dragon lord slain in the Battle of Silvertear Skies. The Holy See would simply ask that the Scions and Crystal Braves watch his fallen corpse at Silvertear Lake carefully and report any changes. In exchange, the city will dedicate knights to ensuring House Fortemps’ provisional shipments are well protected. Hoping the arrangement might lead to further cooperation, Alphinaud accepts, but word arrives during the very meeting itself that Iceheart’s heretics have attacked another caravan bound for Revenant’s Toll.
The adventurer joins the investigation of the thefts, where one of the surviving knights claims he heard the heretics speak of “Shiva’s resurrection.” When Alphinaud learns that Ishgardian scripture speaks Shiva as an apostate who lay with dragons, a saint to the heretics, he becomes convinced that the thefts are related to an attempted summoning by Iceheart. The Crystal Braves join the Ishgardian knights in a sweep of the Central Highlands, slowly closing in on the tunnels used by the heretics. After an exhaustive search, Iceheart’s lair is discovered deep within Snowcloak, the massive barrier of ice closing off access to western Coerthas. Within, Iceheart confronts the adventurer, but states only that she acts for the good of Eorzea and Hydaelyn by doing whatever it takes to end the Dragonsong War. With that, she teleports away, aided by the use of a makeshift aetheryte within the caves. While the Scions attempt to find where Iceheart retreated to, the adventurer is called back to the Eorzean alliance, the Garlean war of succession has ended.
At the Lotus Stand, Kan-E-Senna explains that the Garlean throne was meant to pass from the Empire’s founder, Solus zos Galvus, to his eldest son. Upon his untimely death, however, the crown fell into contention between the son and brother of the fallen heir. As High Legatus of the Garlean Imperial Army, the grandson was able to lead a successful campaign against his uncle, prying the Empire from his grasp. Having heard reports from spies within the Empire that, as High Legatus, Varis yae Galvus was so intent on claiming Eorzea that he spoke out against the Meteor project despite his father’s full support, the Alliance leaders agree that Garlemald’s campaign will resume as soon as his grip on the throne is secure. As such, until Iceheart can be located, every effort is made to identify and apprehend the Ivy. Ilberd informs the adventurer that he believes the Braves have discovered the traitor’s identity – Grand Marshal Eline Roaille, second in command of the Immortal Flames. Though it requires the assistance of Yugiri and the Doman shinobi, Roaille is captured, but the adventurer’s involvement is interrupted when Minfilia calls them back to the Rising Stones.
In Mor Dhona, Minfilia welcomes a new arrival to the Scions from Sharlayan who specializes in aetheryte technologies. Moenbryda, she explains will likely be able to assist in both the location of Iceheart as well as the ongoing effort to discover a means to confine Ascian souls. The Scions conclude that, after Iceheart teleported away, she destroyed the receiving aetheryte to prevent the adventurer giving chase. Moenbryda suggests channeling a blast of aether through void left by the destroyed aetheryte and teleporting the adventurer through it as a makeshift beacon. In spite of the danger, the adventurer takes the risk and arrives the Ahk Afah Amphitheatre. Iceheart rises from prayer and expresses disappointment at the adventurer’s arrival. Summoning the power of the Echo, Iceheart calls out to Saint Shiva and offers herself as a vessel, somehow summoning the primal into herself. The battle is fierce, but the adventurer exhausts her power and returns the essence of ice to the land… but Iceheart remains. Collapsing, she curses the adventurer as a fool, claiming that a pawn in a war of liars, bidding them to seek out the Keeper of the Lake to see with eyes unclouded. As she retreats into a cold, aetherial mist, she repeats the words of Hydaelyn, “Hear, feel, think.”
The adventurer quits Ahk Afah, leaving the Ascian Nabriales alone to consider the events, oddly displeased that things are proceeding as Lahabrea intended.
At the Rising Stones, the Scions are faced with more questions than answers in Iceheart’s defeat, but agree that the matter should be considered discreetly. The idea that a mortal from among the five races could wield the power of a primal would only serve to sow fear and draw the ire of Garlemald. Hearing of Iceheart’s connection to Hydaeyn, Minfilia becomes convinced that some thread connects these recent events.
In Ul’dah, Roaille escapes, but is soon recaptured with the adventurer’s aid, ensuring that her network of spies will wither and die in her absence. The purging of her corruption reveals a staggering involvement in the realm’s woes. After the Calamity, she aided the XIVth Legion in its invasion, yet undermined their efforts on behalf of the High Legatus in Garlemald who hoped to rein in the Black Wolf’s leash – all the while selling imperial secrets to Eorzeans to prolong the conflict and profit from the unshifting status quo. And her contacts within the heretics of Ishgard suggest even darker allegiances. Raubahn assures the Scions that she will be thoroughly interrogated while her network is dismantled. Later, the Sultana meets privately with Merlwyb and Kan-E-Senna, confiding in them that she will soon undermine all of the factions that erode the hope of her people by dissolving the monarchy and syndicate alike. Hoping that Raubahn will forgive her, she beseeches the other leaders to aid him in quelling the chaos that will inevitably ensure. At the same time, Teledji Adeledji plots his next move, while attempting to predict the Sultana’s.
At the Rising Stones, Moenbryda reveals that she believes she has finally discovered a way to destroy Ascian souls by trapping them within a material known as white auracite and shearing into them with a blast of pure aether, a blade of light similar to that which drive Lahabrea from Thancred. The final challenge lies in discovering how to create and wield such a blade, and time is of the essence. Urianger reveals that coinciding with the destruction of the Isle of Val, scholars researching the same subject as the Students of Baldesion began to disappear – a form of dimensional compression known only as The Rejoining…